Pouzza Fest 2019

Above: HVAL at Theatre Sainte Catherine. Photo Credit: Chris the Frog

Nine years ago, Hugo Mudie of Montreal punk band the Sainte Catherines put poutine on his pizza. The greasy combination somehow inspired him to create a pop punk festival called Pouzza (and probably gave him heartburn too). It started small, but has expanded greatly over the years. Most of the festival activities took place at the free outdoor stage at the Quartier des Spectacles, while more intimate performances were held at smaller venues such as Katacombes, Foufounes, Turbo Haus, Café Cleopatra and Theatre Sainte-Catherine. More than 175 bands were set to play, and I was cursed with an all-access pass, forcing me to run from venue to venue. Unfortunately, I had to work the graveyard shift during the weekend as well, so I was denied the full Pouzza experience, missing out on seeing headliners like War On Women, Iron Reagan and PEARS, plus all the secret shows scheduled at 3am.

Bad Cop / Bad Cop at le Jardin des Bieres. Photo Credit: Chris the Frog

Day One began with the Women in Music Panel, discussing how they deal with creepy fans and bad promoters. It was followed by a workshop on bystander intervention given by Shawna Potter of War On Women, promoting her new book Making Spaces Safer. From there, I wandered to each venue, hoping to be pleasantly surprised by an unknown band. Standouts were Cold Wrecks and HVAL and Jeffrey Lost Control. But the main stage kept beckoning me to return to it, to see incredible sets by Lost Love and Bad Cop / Bad Cop. And of course, I had to bask in the glory of Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! From there, I ran to Theatre Sainte Catherine to see my buddies in These Fast Times, sticking around to see a feral performance by Enfants Sauvages. With an hour to spare before work, I finished the night at Turbo Haus, to see Abertooth Lincoln, who were dressed in custom uniforms to promote their new single / videogame “Space Force,” followed by Ellen and the Degenerates, playing their second to last show ever.

Ellen and the Degenerates at Turbo Haus. Photo Credit: Chris the Frog

For Day Two, I began with a comedy show, hosted by Gabe Koury, with music provided by Complainers, who played quick covers of Kid Rock songs between comedians. Loud-mouth comedian Ben Roy headlined, engaging the audience by knocking over the empty chairs in the front row and yelling “You just got upgraded!” to the people in the back. Meanwhile at the Beer Garden, young parents were indoctrinating their children into the realm of punk rock with kid-friendly activities and music. I spent most of my day seeing bands at the outdoor stage like Direct Hit! and Strung Out, but made sure to escape ska bands like Big D and the Kids Table and the Planet Smashers. Instead, I went to go see Wine Lips, the second-best dressed band of Pouzza with their matching red tracksuits. Some people were put off by the idea of seeing bands in a strip club, but the stage at Café Cleopatra was in fact very classy and a great place to see the Lef7overs.

The Lef7overs at Cafe Cleopatra. Photo Credit: Chris the Frog

I arrived late to the festivities on Day Three, but I managed to catch a very spooky set by Gutter Demons. There were warnings of heavy rain all weekend, but up until Sunday, the weather had been clear. But as expected, there was a momentary torrential downpour. We all huddled under a big tent, drinking beer out of boredom and waiting for the rain to let up. It was short-lived though, which was fortunate for Guerilla Poubelle, who traveled all the way from France just to play. Already exhausted from the weekend, I mostly stayed put in the Beer Garden, but made sure to go to Foufs to see Downway play Montreal for the first time in 15 years. The night ended with positive vibes and keyboard solos from the party ambassador himself Andrew WK, who closed with probably the longest countdown ever.

Downway at Foufounes Electriques. Photo Credit: Chris the Frog

Chris the Frog is the host of Sewer Spewer, your weekly guide to Montreal's Dirty Underground, which airs every Monday from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.